Food,  Ukraine

Varenyky – famous Ukrainian dumplings

If by any chance you’ve seen “Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka“, you remember the humorous episode in which varenyky kept jumping into Patsyuk’s mouth all by themselves 🙂

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If you haven’t, than it’s highly recommended, especially for those interested in the Ukrainian culture. It’s there on YouTube with English subtitles. Alternatively, you can read the original short stories by Nikolay Gogol – as Wikipadia says,

The stories are heavily laced with Ukrainian folklore and cultural references, offering a unique perspective into life in the country during Gogol’s time period.

But let’s go back to varenyky. I don’t think you’ll get to experience their magical jumping abilities, but believe  me, they’ll disappear from your table so fast that you’ll almost regret spending so much time cooking them 🙂  But it’s still worth the experience. I’d say, varenyky is the most recognized Ukrainian dish number two. Why number two? Because number one forever belongs to borsch 🙂 I used to think that varenyky were uniquely Ukrainian, but the more I find out about other cultures, the more similar dumplings I encounter in different cuisines: Italian raviolis, Nepalese momos, Georgian  khinkalis and so on. What makes the Ukrainian varenyky special? Perhaps the distinctive crescent shape and a wide range of suitable fillings – mashed potatoes with mushrooms or liver, stewed cabbage, mince, cottage cheese, strawberries, cherries, apples, raspberries and so on. The choice is all yours.

One thing to remember when cooking varenyky is that it’s taste depends entirely on  the filling – the unleavened dough is merely a wrapper (it shouldn’t be hard or unpleasant to taste though). As for me, I like it with mashed potatoes. sometimes, when I feel like spoiling my family, I put everything aside and dedicate my entire evening to cooking. Yes, it takes a long time to prepare varenyky, and in  the world of today who has the luxury of spending a few hours over making dinner? More and more often I find myself taking shortcuts I’ve learned in India – it takes only 7 minutes to cook some rice in a pressure cooker. Add 15-20 minutes for chopping and stewing some vegetables, and voila, your dinner is ready! 🙂 But anyway, let’s go back to varenyky once again.

Varenyky

The ingredients

For the dough you’ll need:

600 g of wheat flour

200 ml of water

3 eggs (you can do without)

1 teaspoon of salt

For the filling you’ll need :

800 g potatoes

1 onion

1 carrot

4 tablespoons of oil

! tablespoon of salt

black pepper and your favorite spices

Also, you’ll need 50 g of butter.

How to cook varenyky

Mix all the ingredients for the dough and knead it for 5 minutes. Then cover your dough and forget about it for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. I will not bore you with long descriptions – everyone knows how to make mashed potatoes. Just boil the potatoes and mash them! Don’t forget to add salt and your favorite spices. Also, your mashed potatoes shouldn’t be watery, because it will be impossible to wrap a liquid filling with the dough. Pour some oil on  a frying pan, chop your onion finely and fry it until it turns golden brown. Then add a grated carrot to the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes more. Add this mix to the mashed potatoes.

Then  roll your dough into a thin layer (1-3 mm) and cut the dough into circles using a glass or a cup. Place a spoonful of dough in the center of a circle, then close the dough pocket and seal it by joining the edges and pressing them with your fingers. Then put your varenyky into boiling water and let them boil for 10 minutes. Boil around 10 pieces at a time. I remember the concept was very  alien to my mother in law – she was sure I was going to deep fry those dumpling in the oil! 🙂 Anyway, place your hot varenyky in a bowl and put some butter on  the top to melt. If you serve with sour cream, it will taste like heaven. If you don’t, it’ll be pretty good anyway 🙂

Bon appetit!

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